PONTIAC, Mich. – The Pontiac school district has agreed to pay a Washington, D.C., law firm up to $250 an hour to push for more latitude on spending federal stimulus money, according to a report in The Oakland Press.

The district anticipates it will be in the red by $11.6 million by the end of June, and already plans to close eight schools to help bring spending in line with revenue, The Press reported. But administrators said it would help if federal stimulus money, generally earmarked for educational improvement, could be used for all general operations.

Without that flexibility, acting Superintendent Linda Paramore said, the cuts will be even deeper, The Press reported.

The board voted to hire the D.C. firm Brustein & Manasevit to push its case with the federal government, though administrators noted the company will have to have results by June 30, the deadline for the district to adopt a balanced budget under state law.

Two board members expressed concerns about the cost, pointing out there is no guarantee of success, The Press reported. It was unclear from the report whether there will be a limit on the attorneys’ time or charges.

The Oakland Press, “Pontiac schools hire law firm to help get funds,” May 6, 2008

Michigan Education Report, “Detroit not the only school district seeing red,” June 30, 2008